Suspected Burglars Use Religion as a Ruse

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Loudon City (WVLT) - Police say they used religion to deceive, even used it to cover their tracks, and many of their victims, according to investigators were pastors or ministers.

We're talking about Steve Robert Gutt, the Loudon City policeman arrested and charged along with an accomplice in connection with at least 20 burglaries. Gutt was fired August 31st.

Stephen McLamb has new details on a case we first brought you Thursday night at 5:30.

Police say when you went to work, so did the suspects casing out your home, and if you answered your door, they just said they were from a local church and want you to join their community.

Loudon police officer Steve Robert Gutt, along with Hubert Elam Jr., are now jailed for more than twenty burglaries in Monroe county. Sheriff's officials say the officer and Elam conducted the burglaries just like clockwork. When you went to work so did they.

"Nine to five. Just work like other people do. When people go to work they would find their way to their homes and burglarize it," Monroe County Sheriff Bill Bivens said.

Sheriff's officials say many of their victims were those in the ministry like Pastor Gerald Hyde of Harvest Fellowship church.

"We were at service on Sunday night," Pastor Gerald Hyde from Harvest Fellowship Church said.

It was during that time Hyde's home was hit, losing money from a church collection for charity.

"An Angel Food program where we offer discounted food to those that have need, and we had collected $450," Hyde said.

Along with electronics, guns, but more importantly a chest containing something that had no dollar amount to the thieves, but meant a lot to Hyde.

"School pictures of our children and family pictures of our children who are now grown and gone," Hyde said.

Sheriff's officials say if the suspects did find someone at home, they covered their tracks asking them to come to their church.

"They would come by and hand them some kind of pamphlet or something you know...have a good day," Bivens said.

Despite his loss, Pastor Hyde says he has nothing but forgiveness in his heart.

"Do they break your trust in a police officer, but they really don't. Human nature is human nature, and it doesn't matter if they wear a badge," Hyde said.

Sheriff's officials say more warrants were being drawn up against both men late Friday afternoon. Elam and Gutt remain in the Monroe County Jail, and officials say they still haven't set a bond. Both are due in court Tuesday morning.

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